We're just a couple months into 2016 but the years big food trend has already been set. Southeast Asian restaurant openings seem to be happening weekly thus far. Today's stop is a spot that's gotten plenty of discussion. Serai opened up on Milwaukee in Logan Square right around the New Year. It bills itself as the city's first pusher of Malaysian Cuisine. There's just one other place in the NW Suburbs where you can taste these flavors so it was kind of a big deal when Serai appeared.
Newly Opened in Logan Square
So far most of the reviews have been positive. LTHforum is where you'll find much of the discussion on the food and for the most part people really seem to like it. In one of the comments the poster mentions that he went with his Malaysian friends and they all agreed it was as good as they've had in the States. One thing most people seem to agree on is the goodness of the Roti Paratha which is a popular Malaysian dish made of flatbread roti served with fragrant curry chicken for dipping. What people also agree on is the fact they don't give you nearly enough roti to enjoy all of the curry. The only way to get more is by ordering another round. Hopefully they can fix this soon.
There's one popular Malaysian dish that I was familiar with. Char Koay Teow translates literally to "stir-fried ricecake strips" and is something I have tried before in the Suburbs. Wok Fried noodles are one of my favorite things to eat so I was sure to try this version which came with tremendous 'wok hei' which is a term for the smokiness a dish can get when cooked in a wok. The noodles were well browned and the inclusion of shrimps and Chinese sausage was perfect. This will be in my rotation.
Char Koay Teow
Last dish I've tried thus far is the Beef Rendang. Another popular plate in Malaysia, I wasn't as in love with this dish I was the noodles but only because I felt the beef wasn't cooked long enough. It took some tussling to tear it apart which shouldn't be the case. That said the flavors were certainly there. Deep hints of lemongrass definitely hit the spot. Serai also has a standard Chinese portion to the menu and people have said they were extra pleased with the product. This made them extra happy since the other options around the area aren't anything to get excited about. All in all this is a great spot for the neighborhood to have and I'm glad the neighbors have taken note. Check it out.
2169 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647